It was great to attend Karate College 2005 after a couple years off personally. Karate College always has an interesting combination of instruction so that any martial artist who wishes to broaden their knowledge base can do so. Of course the features were present (Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace & Renzo Gracie) who for the most part is the reason we travel to Radford Virginia to attend this convention. Also there are a number of supplemental instructors to make this all the more worth while.
With the help of my traveling comrades, I have in my humble opinion documented a review of the instructors that we had the opportunity to work with this year.
Jeff Troshane – Joe Lewis Fighting Systems
Jeff held our introduction work out this year and did a great job of warming us up without knocking us out after being on the road all day. Jeff worked many of the basics of boxing techniques that are dominant in the Joe Lewis Fighting System since it is based on full contact fighting.
This was a good introduction to those who are not necessarily too familiar with boxing techniques and a good reminder to those with a bit of experience to concentrate on their basics… which we all need on a regular basis.
He finished his class with 90 second punching sprints (uppercuts, hooks and strait punches) just so that we could walk away with a bit of a glow. Good job!
Bill "Superfoot" Wallace – Superfoot System
Upon our greeting, Mr. Wallace showed me his latest collections of scars… from his right knee replacement surgery. After 15 years of walking in pain he says he is finally free. As the story goes, Bill Wallace only kicks with his left foot because his right knee was severely injured in a wresting incident. He does however have to use this right leg to support himself while kicking. After a mere 7 months after surgery it seems he has hardly missed a beat.
With his introduction workout on Thursday night he went over some of his basic set up techniques where we worked on hiding the kick, bridging the gap using appropriate stepping and a couple set ups utilizing a roundhouse kick.
On Saturday afternoon we worked more intensely on a hook kick set up into a roundhouse finish. Mr. Wallace makes this look very easy and I have been working similar techniques that require the same movements since I had the first opportunity to work with him in 1992.
After working technique he gave us his usual stretching, strengthening and conditioning workout. Of course we were all fully exhausted at this point but gave it our best as to avoid a friendly kick in the butt as he wanders through the class inspiring people to give it their all and "keep a leg up."
Bill will be celebrating his 60th birthday later this year and to me his is one of the most gifted, inspiring athletes I have ever had the opportunity to meet.
Brooks Miller – Muay Tai
Brooks and his assistant Perry were both very qualified full contact Muay Tai fighters. They stressed leaning into techniques such as leg kicks to cut of the full brunt of the kick and I understand the philosophy behind what they were teaching, but without extensive training for full contact fighting this simply isn’t going to happen.
Their technique was good as we worked as basic cut kick (horizontal plane round house kick) and their use and explanation of full body rotation behind your techniques was right on the money too. One thing I did find though while we were working in the morning with Perry was that some of the combinations he was putting together didn’t flow well for me. They might be well suited for his type of fighting but I personally find that e.g. if I am kicking from my rear leg that I am not going to take it back behind me an re-fire the same technique. The lag time is far too extensive.
Jerry Beasley – Trap boxing
Although Jerry Beasley is widely known for his original TKD and JKD styles, he has taught in the past and this time techniques which he describes come from Trap boxing.
I was very impressed with his presentation of the techniques and effectiveness of the techniques that he was teaching. In the past I haven’t been as satisfied with his teachings. I always felt he has a lot to offer; he simply either wasn’t giving it away or presenting it as well as he did this time.
Mr. Beasley incorporated a technique easily remembered by its acronym, TITE (titty) which stands for Thumb In The Eye. He also explained his philosophy of hitting with a closed hand as opposed to an open hand to avoid cutting and when teaching sequences he worked them in "kata" form so that we had mental pictures to help us flow with the new combinations we were learning.
Mike Allen – Joe Lewis Fighting Systems
Mike’s presentation is very dynamic. He explains the basic techniques of full contact fighting very well reminding us to work at slipping as close as you can to incoming techniques which helps reduce the lag time to counter on your opponent. We also worked keeping our hands up in front as we weave and had partners "keep us honest" as we were working our combinations.
Mark Hatmaker – Submissions
If you are proficient at ground work then this is a great seminar for you. If you are anything less than that, then I found that there was way too much happening. The techniques demonstrated seemed simple enough and the guys in our group that do groundwork were having a great time. Mark even included a detailed list of what he was going to cover but to someone like me who has limited ground skills I was not able to retain very much. This is a perfect example of why karate college classes should build on the previous rather than try to cram 1 hour classes.
Walt Lysak – Mixed Martial Arts
A lot of good points were made during this seminar. Walt Lysak focused on realistic fighting… street fighting. It requires a different mind set therefore some of the rules will change. Ending the fight asap is always a good rule but if you are restraining an opponent you have to be aware of all possibilities of being hit not only by a hand, foot, knee or elbow but the possibility of weapons does come into play. I was impressed by the simplicity of the techniques, the explanation and the time to work the technique.
Renzo Gracie – Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Renzo is with out a doubt the best teacher of ground work that I have experienced. He teaches in a very structured manner allowing you to build upon each technique and allows you time to work each technique. He makes a point of spending time with each and every person on the mats to make sure you understand what it is he is teaching. This year I was particularly impressed at the fact that he taught a take down technique from the standing position. There are no secrets to what he is teaching… it is common sense and body mechanics and yes, he does make it look easy.
Joe Lewis – Joe Lewis Fighting Systems
Mr. Lewis is without a doubt one of the most intense instructors on the circuit. He enforces strong work ethics and strong basics… something that he says has been lost somewhat today in a lot of (martial arts) schools. Joe Lewis is a master of teaching a concept. All his basic foundations are strong and his movements are precise. If you go with the flow rather than try to mimic him you’ll have a greater understanding of what it is he is teaching. This is not to say that what he teaches is hard to grasp, but a more advanced fighter will have a deeper understanding of his movements.
The main objective for me at Karate College is to get as much time on the floor with Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace and Renzo Gracie. Everyone else is a bonus and some have been really great. Some on the other hand are taking up valuable time and space and have been there for far too long. I think Mr. Beasley knows who they are. I can’t believe that our group is the only group with this opinion.
Attendance was down (at least it seemed to be) considerably this year. This may be due to the fact that Mr. Beasley has not brought in more "big name" instructors. It could also be because some of the instructors have been there too long and people simply don’t want to go through the same routine with some very mediocre instructors.
Having the classes off the main campuses was not very good either. It meant running back and forth and made it more difficult for a group like ours (8 people) to roam around on their own.
Having stated that there is room for improvement, it still is a very enjoyable weekend and yes, I would consider going again if the lineup is appropriate and the facility is back on campus.